So, there’s this pretty cool web service called Kitestring. When I heard about it, I put that shit all over social media (even though I keep forgetting to use it myself) because I think it’s hugely important, especially for women–you tell it you’re going out and at a designated time, it’ll send you a text message to check in with you. If you’re not home yet and need some more time, you let it know. If you are home, you let it know. If you’re in trouble, you let it know, all with codes you choose. And if you’re in trouble, it’ll notify set emergency contacts. It’ll even notify them just in case if you don’t respond. Basically, it’s awesome, and some women have already said they feel it would’ve prevented some rapes if it had existed sooner/women had known about it. I mean, even if someone were to force you to enter your code for duress, it replies as though you checked in but secretly notifies your emergency contacts.
When I signed up, it was free. Now, I get that things like this need to make money, both because frankly the developers and people who keep it running deserve compensation and because expenses need covered. I mean, I’m in favor of paywalls for online newspapers and blogs and such. But in this case, I have mixed feelings.
Granted, Kitestring’s paid version is really cheap at just $3 a month, which basically gets you unlimited check-ins and emergency contacts while the free version limits you to one emergency contact and 10 check-ins a month, which isn’t bad, and safety is worth $3 a month.
Now, I’d probably feel differently if this had been the setup from when I signed up–even though my account doesn’t seem to be affected because of that–but I kind of feel like that safety is paramount and it’s shitty to kind of be saying, “Look, we’ll keep you reasonably safe for free, but you’ll be even safer if you pay.”
Like I said, people need to make a living and cover expenses and it’s not a huge amount of money at all, but it makes me a little uncomfortable. I guess I feel like it’s almost hypocritical to say your primary concern is keeping people safe yet you want money to do it. It feels similar to having to pay extra to get a residence with locks on the outside doors, especially when violence against women is so common. I mean, why do you think #YesAllWomen even happened?
I’d feel differently if they asked for donations–in fact, I’d probably willingly contribute to that to keep them going. But having to pay to ensure my safety? I don’t like that.